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New Study: Solar Grid Parity is Here Today

By |April 3rd, 2012|

A definitive new LCOE study says solar has achieved parity.

Solar materials prices are down, financing is more accessible and technology has extended solar system life. The result:  The price of solar energy-generated electricity, calculated by a legitimate levelized cost of energy (LCOE) method, is now competitive in many regions with the price of electricity generated by conventional sources.

To be clear, this review of solar photovoltaic LCOE is not one of those “if coal and nuclear paid for the real harm they do” analyses. It is a hard look at the actual numbers.

The study’s biggest surprise, said co-author Joshua Pearce, Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering Professor at Queen’s University and Michigan Technological University, was how much outdated information and misinformation there is about the price of residential and small/medium system solar energy. “We have reached a tipping point,” he said. “Solar has gone past grid parity.”

Parity, according to the study, is “the lifetime generation cost […]

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Nuclear Failure in California Could be a Big Test for Solar

By |April 3rd, 2012|

Solar has suddenly become much more important in Southern California because of the outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), California’s third biggest investor owned utility, could lose fifteen percent to twenty percent loss of its base load electricity. “SDG&E, along with the California transmission system operator and Southern California Edison (SCE), are working together right now on contingency planning for the possibility that those two large units could be offline this summer,” said SDG&E spokesperson Jennifer Ramp.

SDG&E, Ramp added, will bring its new 500-kilovolt Sunrise Powerlink transmission line into service in early summer. Designed to deliver 1,000 megawatts of regional solar and wind that are not yet in service, Sunrise will carry extra fossil generation this summer — if it is available.

But, Ramp said, “you could be looking at a very unique situation,” adding, “We could be asking our customers to conserve […]

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What to do before you Go Solar

By |March 27th, 2012|

One of the smartest things you can do today is go solar, and the smartest way to go solar is to reduce your energy usage as much as possible at the same time.  If you do, solar may allow you to eliminate your electric bill completely, instead of just reducing it.  Here are some smart ways to save energy and money:

• Replace your air conditioner with an energy efficient Energy Star air conditioner.
• Replace your noisy, out-of-date refrigerator with a sleek Energy Star model.
• If you don’t need your spare refrigerator, just get rid of it. If you do need it, make sure that refrigerator is an Energy Star model.
• Tankless water heaters are more efficient and cost less to run than traditional water heaters.
• Set your water heater temperature setting no higher than 120 degrees.
• If you have a pool or spa, replace the pump with a variable speed model.
• There’s tremendous savings in running the […]

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New Solar Cat-Based Monitoring System

By |March 13th, 2012|

You’ve heard of web-based monitoring for a solar electrical system, but what about cat-based monitoring?  When  Field Supervisor Dan Denning was installing a solar monitoring system on one customer’s computer, he turned around and was surprised by a little unexpected help.

If you have questions about solar web-based monitoring, or solar power in general, call Solar Electrical Systems at 805-497-9808.

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Solar Electrical Systems Completes Two Solar Installations for Caltrans

By |March 12th, 2012|

Solar Electrical Systems of Westlake Village, CA, has completed two solar system installations for Caltrans, one in Altadena and one in Camarillo.
The 35.3kW solar installation in Camarillo boasts some impressive numbers.  The $220,000 system will cost the facility just $28,000, with rebate income and tax benefits paying for 88% of the project.  The system will save Caltrans almost $9,000 in electrical costs the first year, with system lifetime savings (30 years) of $974,500.
Cal Trans, Altadena, wanted to go solar, but their open web truss roof wouldn’t support a PV system.  Solar Electrical Systems came up with an ingenious engineering design to support the new solar system, strengthen the roof, and add 3 inches of new insulation.  The Altadena numbers are impressive, also.  Rebates and tax benefits paid for 90% of the total cost, with electrical savings of $6,000 the first year, and lifetime savings of over $665,000. 
Solar Electrical Systems is […]

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LADWP Residential Solar Rebates to Expire in May

By |March 5th, 2012|

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Residential Solar Rebates are set to expire in early May.  Commercial solar rebates for LADWP customers have already run out, and now it’s first-come, first served for residential solar power systems.  Call us today to lock in your rebate now before they expire.

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Home Solar Panel Prices Dropped 50 Percent Last Year

By |February 23rd, 2012|

A cool-down in European solar markets combined with an over-supply of panels from China has led to a massive decline in solar panel prices. Over the last year, prices for solar panels have fallen 50 percent. In the U.S., falling prices spell competition, and many solar providers are hustling to position themselves to take advantage of a rapidly changing solar industry.

While solar panel manufacturers have taken a hit from the 50-percent reduction caused by the glut of supplies, home solar contractors are seeing their profits rise.

As solar providers stabilize their bottom line, they attract more investors. Previously, investors have been drawn to large-scale solar energy projects, but as the market shifts, they are increasingly backing smaller installation contractors. Investment firms are predicting that if solar brands succeed with public offerings, the market could experience exponential growth.

To See New Lower Solar Pricing, click here.

Homeowners have enjoyed lower installations costs as well. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Tracking […]

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Leasing the Sun

By |February 13th, 2012|

“The most expensive way to get solar is to do nothing now and wait until all of the incentives are gone.  So, if you can’t buy with cash, take out a loan.  If you
can’t get a loan, do a good lease or PPA.” 
Leasing the Sun
With low or no up-front costs, solar leases are increasing in popularity among homeowners who can’t afford to purchase a PV system outright or don’t want the
burden of ownership and maintenance. But the concept is still relatively young and not all of the kinks have been worked out.
Being able to recognize a good deal, or a bad deal, is an important part of successful solar leasing. It’s all about the “fine print.”
Between the Lines

So what should you look for—or look out for—in a contract? It would be due diligence to talk to your attorney and accountant before signing a lease. Alternatively, you could solicit contracts from […]

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LADWP: Feed-In Tariff Update

By |November 8th, 2011|

30 years ago, Mayor Tom Bradley recommended that “The DWP should pay the highest justifiable cost for surplus power generated by its customers who invest in solar electric systems.”  Nothing happened.

14 years ago, Councilwoman Ruth Galanter and DWP General Manager David Freeman committed to “100,000 rooftop photovoltaic systems…by the year 2010.”  

LADWP’s mission is to provide clean, reliable water and power in a safe, environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner with excellent customer service to the communities we serve. Their vision is to be a world-class publicly-owned integrated utility, innovatively transformed to provide sustainable water and power to a green, robust and prosperous city. How they do this is in their plan. See

LADWP has had 6 General Managers in the past 4 years (9 in the past 10 years) which clearly shows that the Mayor and City Council do not and can not manage LADWP. Instead, LADWP career bureaucrats manage to keep the lights […]

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LA Solar Electrical Systems

By |October 31st, 2011|

Many contractors have stopped installing solar electrical systems in LADWP territory because of expensive changes required by the LA Building and Safety Department and new requirements by LADWP. The new rules and regulations that started September  1, 2011 add thousands of dollars for on-site energy audits and special custom equipment built just for LADWP projects. The new safety requirements that cost thousands of dollars in equipment upgrades extend solar electrical systems payback periods by many years. LADWP union leaders cite safety concerns as the reason for the additional equipment that adds thousands of dollars to the price of a $10,000 solar electrical system. No other utility in the country has the same extreme requirements as LADWP.  SCE, Pasadena, Glendale and Anaheim electric utilities do not have these requirements. LADWP as usual has its way of managing their $40 million per year Public Benefit Fund for solar and is not answerable […]

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